Durian fruit, meaning "thorny fruit" has hard outer shell that is laced with a number of thick, dense thorns. Containing four to six pods, the flesh has a very distinguishable, malodorous, full-bodied aroma. Once ripe, the skin can be easily cracked open to reveal its golden yellow flesh nestled into the pods that bear large nut-sized seeds. The flesh has a meaty, custard-like texture with a flavor that is similar to its aroma: a combination of savory, sweet and pungent, often compared to rotting fruit, with notes of banana, caramelized onion and aged blue cheese.
Durian is a seasonal fruit that can bear two crops yearly. Harvests are in spring and summer, depending on region.
There are more than 100 cultivars of Durian, yet one variety dominates the international marketplace: Durio ziebethinus or Mon Thong, also called golden pillow. Durian are called "Mountain Cat" in Mandarin and as Mao Shan Wang in Cantonese. When ripe, the fruit will have a slight give and be golden in color with soft, creamy yellow flesh. Separate the seeds from the flesh before eating, and cut from the opposite end of the stem. Recently, research has pinpointed 41 highly odor-active compounds associated with the Durian's prominant odor. Interestingly, 24 of the odor-producing compounds discovered were new to science.
Durian is rich in sugar, carbohydrates, fatty acids and protein; it is high in nutrients, particularly sulfer. Durian also contains Vitamin C and is rich in antioxidants specifically flavonoids, beta-carotene and anthocyanins. When compared to unripe and overripe Durian the ripe Durian offers the highest antioxidant content.
Durian fruit is well-suited to preparations where the flesh is pureed or blended. The large, fleshy seeds may be roasted or boiled and eaten as nuts. Use the flesh in batters for cakes and baked goods, custards, purees and ice creams. Pair with other tropical fruit such as mangosteen and mango, or alongside sticky rice or coconut cream. Wear protective gloves when slicing and removing the edible pods from the spiky skinned fruit. For best flavor and quality use within one week.